The Ball of Curls at the End of the Rainbow

By Delia Berlin

When our last parrot died this past June, after our more than three decades of birdkeeping, a dark silence fell on our home. It was deeper than our grief. All the whistles, phrases, laughter, and songs of our parrots ended abruptly. And it was lonely. Most people can relate to the loss of a dog or a cat, but few are familiar with the bond that can be developed with a parrot. While our family and friends understood our loss, several acquaintances could not even bring themselves to express sympathy, as if the quality of such a pet did not justify it.

Compounding our sadness was the realization that our advanced ages and parrots’ long lifespans now made us unsuitable companions for them. But, as time passed and our acute mourning eased, we became more open to possibilities. Parrots’ long lives also result in many parrots requiring rehoming. We knew several organizations dedicated to that mission and they certainly could help us identify an older parrot in need of a loving home.

First, I should explain that the word “parrot” is way too broad to describe this potential pet. In a nutshell, there are approximately 350 species of parrots that range from tiny (like a budgie) to huge (like a macaw). They also differ significantly in temperament, habits, and loudness. Considering the possibility of needing condo or apartment living in the future, we would have to rule out any parrot too big or too loud for those conditions. That would narrow the pool significantly.

In addition, since we would be keeping a single parrot, we needed one oriented to humans that would not miss the company of peers. Strange as this quality may seem, it is common among pet birds. Most parrots bred in captivity are raised by humans and remain more interested in people than birds for life. At least we had some criteria to begin a search for a companion bird.

Fast forward a few months of internet searches, phone calls, and adoption applications, and we were still birdless. For the first time in our 42 years together, we had been without a pet for many months. Perhaps out of frustration and impatience, we started considering other pets. In the distant past, David had been allergic to cats and dogs, but he had not reacted to any of the many dogs in our extended family and friends’ homes for a long time. After some reading, we decided that an extra-small dog, or a small dog of a hypoallergenic breed, would be safe.

At this point, the search broadened and intensified. We would try to adopt an adult dog locally, but we would also continue our parrot search. If we found a good match, we would take in either a parrot or a dog, and possibly both. But even with these broader requirements, we were unprepared for the difficulty of the search.

There is a website, Petfinder, that (presumably) acts as a gateway for any pet search. You can enter your zip code, the type of pet you are looking for, narrow it down by size, age, and even behavior, and find potential matches nearby. But I soon found out that many of the dogs listed were hundreds of miles away. They were usually in a Southern state, awaiting transport to New England. Many of these dogs were expected to be purchased or adopted on faith alone, for a price that included transport to Connecticut. We were not willing to go that way.

I also discovered that while Petfinder allowed narrowing the search to local pets only, many organizations were finding a way around this. A potential pet may be listed at a local rescue, for example in Lebanon or East Hartford, but phone calls or emails may reveal that the pet is actually in the South. A local address seems to be enough to meet the “local pets” requirement at Petfinder.

With these problems exposed, we got suspicious about “rescue” organizations. Would we be supporting an unethical profitable industry disguised as a charitable enterprise? We thought it would be best to keep checking our local animal control offices and shelters instead. But unfortunately, our local pounds tend to be flooded with pit bulls and other large breeds. Occasionally, when a small dog showed up, we were outcompeted.

We also checked the Connecticut Humane Society, with an adoption website that is updated every five minutes. They only do adoptions in-person and their main kennels are in Newington. It was a long trip for us, but when we saw a dog with potential, we headed there. We found out that they do not hold any pet, even overnight. Leaving with the dog we came to check on seemed daunting to us, but we were willing to do it if we could get enough positive information about him. Yet, upon arrival we were told that the senior dog we were interested in came with a “bite waiver” and nobody knew for sure if he was housebroken. We declined, without even seeing the dog. We decided that going to Newington to check prospects in those circumstances was too much for us.

During this long process we came across several amazing organizations that impressed us with their dedication, advocacy, and responsibility. Some had sweet dogs with more special needs than we were able to fulfill from the start. Others did not have any candidates meeting our criteria. And there were also those that would not consider us because we lived outside of the radius for required home visits to make sure the pet is a good match with its new owner. In one case, we suggested virtual visits, or in-person visits by a surrogate of their choosing, but our offer was not accepted. Most of these organizations are operated by volunteers and have limited resources. They have the best interest of each animal in mind, but they must be practical by necessity.

At one point, one of our local animal control offices had a dog that was described as almost exactly what we were looking for. We applied immediately, but received an email the next day stating that there was lots of interest in that dog. They wanted to know the last time we had had a dog. Since we kept parrots for over 30 years, we had not had dogs for a very long time. We explained that and, without even a phone call or a home visit, we were rejected for lack of experience. Hopefully, that dog went to his perfect home and is doing well. But we think that having a dog is a bit like riding a bike—you do not forget what it is like.

Reluctantly, we decided we needed to expand our search to nonprofit rescue organizations. We found one that holds periodic adoption events at Petco in Dayville. They bring dogs from shelters in Tennessee, but their process is reasonable. There is an extensive adoption application that requires personal and vet references, in addition to a small fee. They check the references and conduct a virtual interview and home visit. If one is approved to adopt a dog, the pet can be picked up at the adoption event. If for any reason that dog does not seem like a good match, the application remains approved for available pets at future events. There is also an adoption fee, but the organization emphasizes that it is not a sale price but covers the cost of neutering or spaying, vaccinations, deworming, several tests, microchipping, and transport.

Of course, when it rains it pours. Suddenly, Foster Parrots, a large parrot rescue and sanctuary in Rhode Island, asked to interview us for potential matches. During the same week, Connecticut Parrot Rescue called us to assess our household for an older parrot in need of a home. And Paws Rescue League conducted a virtual home visit ahead of an adoption event the following weekend. We proceeded, one thing at a time, and the adoption event at Petco came first.

On March 3rd, we brought home Curly, a six-year-old mini-poodle mix. He had been found as a stray in Tennessee on Valentine’s Day, and in a little over two weeks he had been through a lot. During the previous ten days or so, he had been at a foster home. His foster mom brought him to Petco with his favorite toy and lots of information that we later found to be accurate and helpful. Soon after we got home with Curly, our local animal control officer called to ask if we were interested in a chihuahua. But our search was over.

For now, our parrot pursuit has been suspended. Curly is just a little over 10 lbs. but he is worth his weight in gold. He is smart, affectionate, playful, curious, cuddly, and funny. He happens to be hypoallergenic and David has not reacted. We are both so in love with him that we must pinch ourselves to believe that he is really with us. Frustrating and long as this search was, it landed us the best pooch in the whole wide world. Our parrots will remain in our hearts forever, but at least the silence in our home has been replaced with the pitter-patter of little paws.

Empty Bowls in Willimantic

By Delia Berlin

According to, “Empty Bowls is a grassroots movement by artists and crafts people in cities and towns around the world to raise money for food-related charities to care for and feed the hungry in their communities. Empty Bowls supports food-related charitable organizations around the world, and has raised millions of dollars to help end hunger.”

Willimantic’s first Empty Bowls event will be held at the Windham Senior Center on Wednesday, April 24, from 5 to 7 p.m. Guests will be able to purchase locally made ceramic bowls, priced between $5 and $20, and use them to enjoy unlimited soup and bread donated by local restaurants. There will also be raffles and a silent auction. At the end of the event, 100% of the proceeds will go to benefit the Covenant Soup Kitchen.

But there is much more than fundraising to an Empty Bowls project. The first such event in Willimantic is the brainchild of Daniela de Sousa, owner of Spiral Arts. This ceramics studio and gallery offers classes, workshops, membership, and locally hand-crafted ceramics. In addition to operating Spiral Arts and being a prolific artist, Daniela is also the kiln master, main teacher, and mentor at the studio. 

If I could use only one word to describe Daniela, “synergetic” would work best. In everything she does, she applies her whole person, interconnecting her creativity, interests, resources, and skills to improve outcomes, maximize opportunities, and build community. 

Take, for example, the many hundreds of bowls that Daniela has set out to make for this event. She started planning production a year ahead. To fund the supplies to make the bowls, the studio held fundraising sales last summer, during 3rd Thursday Street Fests. By that time, Daniela had also started collaborating with local restaurants and other organizations to secure a venue and all the resources needed to hold a successful event.

Soon, local potters started converging on the studio, hand-building and throwing bowls of all sizes and styles. After their first firing, many bowls were taken to Windham High School and Eastern Connecticut State University for glazing, becoming welcome teaching materials for local students, who also benefited from the opportunity to contribute to the project. 

At the time of this writing, there is still a growing list of participating restaurants and organizations ready to make Willimantic Empty Bowls a resounding success. All that is clear is that on April 24, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., at the Windham Senior Center, there will be ceramic bowls for every taste, to be filled with delicious soups and bread provided by local eateries. Please join in celebration of all that is good in Willimantic.

Delia’s Feeders

By Delia Berlin

David and I have been feeding birds at our home for over 40 years. David is the main supplier of bird foods, and he certainly does not cut corners. He knows that different kinds of birds have different food preferences. The types of foods they eat and the ways in which they eat them span a wide range. So, if you want to attract birds of many species, you need to offer much more than just one type of seed in one kind of feeder. In addition, you must provide water, and plantings that supply shelter, berries, and nuts.

On any given winter day, at a minimum, David puts out mixed seed and chunks of suet on an elevated tray feeder, sunflower seeds in a tube feeder, a thistle seed bag, cayenne suet cakes in a cage, dried mealworms in a dish on the deck, black oil sunflower hearts in a feeder by the kitchen window, and some more mixed seed scattered on the ground in several areas. In warmer weather, the suet takes a break but the hummingbird feeder appears. Wherever we have lived, we have been successful in attracting lots of birds of many species. However, over the years, we have noticed a sharp decline in their numbers that is a well-documented phenomenon worldwide.

One of the feeders we enjoy the most is the little sunflower feeder that hangs from a shepherd’s hook by the kitchen window. Made from ceramic and with a small perching hole, it attracts only our smallest birds, like chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, and Carolina wrens. Larger birds are unable to perch and feed there. Occasionally a gray squirrel runs up the hook and tries to get seeds by hand, but the process is inefficient and that seems to be enough to discourage the practice. We have a large viburnum in front of this feeder and there is a constant parade of birds circulating from the feeder to the bush and back. This dynamic view from the kitchen sink can magically make food preparation quite entertaining.

Our original little-bird feeder was a gift from friends. It had a wooden perch and a single draining hole. After replacing the perch a few times, David asked me to make a ceramic bird feeder based on the same design. He asked for additional draining holes and an unbreakable perch. As an active member of Spiral Arts Studio, I’m always looking for new ceramic projects, so I welcomed the challenge.

My first bird feeder came out quite cute from a human’s perspective, but I wasn’t sure if the birds would like it. We replaced the old feeder with mine and waited for their response. As we had expected, the birds were cautious and took a couple of weeks to try it. But once they did, they had no difficulty feeding and visited it frequently. My design was better in terms of drainage and had a sturdy, built-in ceramic perching surface. So, I continued making feeders. 

For a while, I “field-tested” each new feeder I made on our shepherd’s hook. Each time, the birds took a little while to feel comfortable with the new one. But they soon got used to the constant change and started trying the feeders almost immediately. I no longer feel the need to test every single one, so we have allowed one to stay undisturbed for months. David refills it daily with sunflower seeds, using a small funnel.

The general concept of these ceramic feeders is a receptacle with a perching hole, which makes them look like a tiny birdhouse. Many people think they are birdhouses, and apparently some birds do too. This past summer, we were surprised to see a house wren exploring the feeder—house wrens are mainly insect eaters and do not frequent feeders. But soon a mate joined the first visitor, they both jumped inside and proceeded to fling out every single seed left in the feeder, only to refill it with nesting material. Although this pair entertained us by perching, sitting, housekeeping, and singing around the feeder, they never actually laid eggs in it. House wrens are territorial nesters, and they often take possession of more nesting sites than they can use, just to keep other birds from using them.

As projects go, making these feeders has been a favorite of mine. They present endless opportunities for variation, and each one is unique. I even dream about new designs. Understandably, my feeder inventory grew, and I started giving them as gifts to friends and relatives. But there is a limit to the number of one’s personal relationships and how many things people can accept. Early this year, it became clear that if I wanted to continue making bird feeders, I needed another outlet.

One day I was shopping at The Hoot and, aware of their assortment of feeders, I asked if they ever bought locally made ones. The answer was a qualified yes. I didn’t have any samples ready but arranged to call back once I did. In the meantime, I created a colorful business card with text on the back:

Uniquely designed and hand-built by Delia Berlin at Spiral Arts, in Willimantic, CT. Fill up to the opening with black oil sunflower seeds and hang in a sheltered location. Watch and enjoy chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, Carolina wrens, and more.

When the cards were printed, I took seven tagged feeders to The Hoot, where six were immediately purchased. I will not reach out beyond the local community and will not accept consignment orders. But I may consider adding Mackey’s or Ladd’s, and perhaps offer feeders at Spiral Arts during special events. Knowing that my feeders are finding homes helps to keep me inspired and creative. 

Meanwhile, if you spot one of my feeders while you are out and about and feel drawn to it, I suggest that you snatch it up. Not only is each of them unique, but their total number is limited. They are fully hand-built and hand-glazed, quite slow to produce, and I will be turning 70 this year. You can do the math.

Wonder and Purpose

By Delia Berlin

Every two weeks or so I drive to NYC to visit my daughter and her family. On those occasions, I usually listen to Connecticut Public Radio. If I find the programming interesting, I can get decent reception along most of the drive on three different stations. On my last trip, I caught a fascinating portion of “Where We Live,” centered around saving turtles.
I had a sweet pet turtle in my childhood. I have heard that I selected it from a large group of them at a pet store in Buenos Aires when I was two years old. Apparently that particular turtle was from a different species, belonged to the store owner and was not for sale. But a two-year-old knows how to tantrum, and it produced results. That turtle roamed our patio during the warm parts of the year and retired to hibernate under furniture in winter. When my family left Argentina, the turtle stayed with relatives who had an enclosed garden and after many years abroad I lost track of its situation.
At one point in my childhood, my family also had a water tank with a couple of red-eared sliders, but I do not recall the end of that story. And decades later, my husband participated as a citizen scientist in projects related to marine turtle conservation. So, turtles were not complete strangers to me. I thought I knew quite a few things about them, but this radio program opened my eyes to much more.
While the guests related several amazing facts about turtles, what captivated me was their passion as they talked about them. They almost sounded like me when I discuss parrots. My thoughts dwelled more on that passion than any actual turtle-related information. But some of the turtle factoids mentioned were so fantastic that I must share them.
The radio guests marveled at the incredible resilience of turtles. They cited many stories about turtles that survived devastating injuries and later regained full function, getting well enough to be reintroduced to the wild. Some of these cases required significant veterinary work and ingenuity. For example, one turtle with a fractured jaw that had been re-set kept dislocating it by wobbling (due to other injuries) and rolling over. To prevent this turtle from constantly rolling over, the vet stuck it snugly inside a plastic jug with a handle, head sticking out. By positioning the handle over the tallest point of the turtle, the jug acted as a stabilizer, bringing the turtle back on its feet each time it was about to roll over. The turtle “wore” the plastic jug until its jaw healed and recovered fully.
Another turtle, a baby near the size of a quarter, was found seemingly dead. But the passion of these turtle advocates goes well beyond talk. One of them actually performed CPR on this tiny tot for 35 minutes. And guess what? The turtle lived!
Now, if you are curious about turtle CPR, you will be interested to hear that it is not at all like human CPR. Fortunately, no chest compressions or mouth-to-mouth breathing are involved. If by chance you find a turtle in cardiac arrest, you should take hold of its legs and start crossing and uncrossing them rhythmically to pump oxygen into its lungs. The radio guests did not explain how to take a turtle’s pulse, but based on their described successes, I think one should immediately start the turtle CPR protocol on any turtle that looks dead, as long as it does not smell, and proceed until there are clear signs of life or exhaustion, whichever comes first.
The radio program covered turtles of all kinds, aquatic and terrestrial. One segment was about a very endangered migratory species of marine turtle. As we all well know, the oceans are warming. The Gulf of Maine, where these turtles find themselves at times, is warming much faster than any other part of the Atlantic Ocean. This is delaying the start of the migration of these turtles. When they finally leave for warmer waters they encounter, instead, colder waters. Being cold-blooded animals, they become hypothermic and drowsy, unable to swim or even to come up to the surface for air. Volunteers routinely patrol these Maine beaches after storms, rescuing any turtles that get washed ashore and taking them to warming facilities to be revived. Some of these turtles are then transported more than ten miles on sleds to be released safely.
Many more interesting facts were uncovered during this program, helping my ride to the city feel shorter than usual. By the time it ended, my mind drifted to the sense of commitment and joy that these passionate speakers had conveyed. In these apocalyptic times of cruel wars, cataclysms and extinctions, life manages to continue to offer seemingly endless opportunities to find wonder and purpose if we seek them.
As we start a new year, we can search within ourselves for hidden pockets of refuge from all the horrors around us. Hopefully, we will still find many. They may be parrots or turtles, plants, constellations, or books. We may encounter them walking outdoors, cooking dinner, or creating projects with others. And if we are fortunate enough to get inspired, feel wonder, and find purpose, let us recognize it, embrace it, and savor it with gratitude.

Fungal Fantasy

By Delia Berlin

Our health status does not change instantly when we turn 65. But for most Americans, their medical insurance does. This, in turn, triggers other changes. Neither patients nor their health care providers can escape the transformation that suddenly affects preventive exams and routines.

It could be said that as we hit Medicare age, we become metaphorical zombies. You may know that there is an entire genus of fungi that parasitizes insects and converts them into zombies, who live the rest of their existence exclusively satisfying their parasitic fungus’ needs. In this allegory, the corporate health care system is the fungus. Both patients and health care providers are zombies, forced to go through senseless motions to keep feeding the parasite. The following fictitious examples may illustrate some of the zombie motions that our parasite requires from us.

Situation 1:

You wait for 20 minutes in a doctor’s waiting room. Finally, someone appears at the other end of the room and calls your name. You get up from your chair and follow the person into an office, where you are offered another chair to wait some more. In a while, someone comes in and asks you to step on the scale. You get up from this second chair and comply. Then, the person proceeds to ask you the same questions that you already answered in questionnaires previously mailed to you and, for good measure, also online. One of the questions asks if you have trouble getting up from a chair. By now, you have been seen getting up from a chair more than once and without any trouble. But the question must be asked. And answered.

Situation 2:

You arrive at a health care specialist’s office and announce yourself. You are given forms to complete. One of the forms asks if you had a flu shot this season. According to the CDC, as of mid-November, there have been 330 flu deaths in the US this year, and just since September more than 1,000 covid deaths have occurred in the US each single week! Also according to the CDC website, only 17% of the total US population received a bivalent covid booster last year. While the CDC still shows no intake data for the newly updated covid vaccine, early indications indicate that it’s been dismal so far. Yet, nobody asks you if you have received an updated covid shot. But you are asked the question that must be asked, and you do answer it.

Situation 3:

You completed five lengthy questionnaires prior to a doctor’s appointment. Some of the questions clearly relate to your mental health and social support system. Several are quite intimate, such as frequency of church attendance or sexual activity. You may also share other related information, like family difficulties or losses, but during your actual appointment there is no acknowledgement or exploration of these subjects. You then hear that the office cannot locate your printed questionnaires. Now you wonder if your religious or sexual practices may have become public information. There was no benefit to the providers or you from asking or answering these questions. But both parties cooperated in their zombie dance.

I could list other examples of Medicare “wellness” practices that provide no benefit to patient or medical practitioner. They are as distracting and useless for one as they are for the other, but they must be followed because they are part of the established protocols. All the fields in the fungal databases must be checked off.

Some of these protocols may have started with good intentions. It would be fine to determine if patients are socially engaged, if something helpful could be done with that information. But in the absence of such interventions, those questions are at worst intrusive and at best a waste of time.

The times when one could walk into a doctor’s office and openly share concerns, while the practitioner listened and acted solely according to experience and knowledge, are over. Doctors, selected from the best and the brightest and put through years of grueling training, are now unable to freely use their own brains and instincts for many of the problems they encounter. Burdened by the protocols established by their employers, mainly to maximize profits and minimize liability, many doctors are experiencing burnout and 20% plan to leave their field within two years. 

The US spends more money per capita in health care than any other country in the world. Yet, our life expectancy is declining and is now five years lower than in the UK. I remember that my grandfather was reluctant to go to the doctor. In my youth, I saw his reticence as stubbornness, but recently a delayed sense of empathy woke up in me. Sorry Grandpa, I can hear you now.

“Novid” No More

By Delia Berlin

After almost four years of dodging the bullet, I finally left the ever-shrinking minority of “novids”—those who still have not gotten COVID. The Centers for Disease Control has estimated that as of July 2023, more than 77% of the U.S. population had experienced at least one COVID infection. Until now I had been lucky enough to avoid it, even when my husband got it last December. But then I was only two months away from my last booster. This time, things were different.

Last month, I was visiting family in NYC when David called me to report that, after feeling congested, he had taken a COVID home test that came out positive. Unfortunately, I had been with him up to that early morning. Now, I had already spent some time with my 12-year-old granddaughter, who immediately gave me a test. We both masked while we waited for the result. I was negative and felt well, but still wanted to be cautious. Since it was an unusually warm day, my granddaughter and I spent the rest of our visit outside, until she had to go to a theater rehearsal. Later, I dined outdoors with my daughter, while my son-in-law had work commitments.

While I was happy to make the most of my visit under the circumstances, I knew that returning home to David would almost certainly give me COVID. The updated vaccines were just beginning to appear in our area and most appointments were still being canceled due to slow-arriving supplies. My last bivalent booster was already six months old and unlikely to protect me against new variants. But staying in NYC while David’s infection evolved in unknown ways was not an acceptable option, so I returned the next day.

By the time I got home, David had started taking the antiviral Paxlovid and was already asymptomatic. Paxlovid works amazingly well when taken as soon as symptoms begin. It greatly prevents severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths, and reduces the chances of getting long COVID. David was fully recovered by the time I felt sick and tested positive. I was trailing him by three days. Fortunately, I had also started taking Paxlovid immediately and responded equally well, getting all better soon.

But just two days after I tested negative, I once again felt congested and tested faintly positive. This “rebound” seems to be quite common with Paxlovid, although the literature still calls it rare. But rebound cases tend to be mild and self-limiting, not calling for additional medical interventions. Still, they are inconvenient because they prolong the need for social isolation and masking precautions. In our household, with our staggered onsets and my rebound, this disruption covered more than two weeks.

Another type of disruption that a COVID infection imposes is a delay in vaccinations. We had planned to be immunized for flu, COVID, and RSV by the time the holiday season arrived. As I write this, about a month after our COVID infections, we have just managed to get our flu shots. The timing of our updated COVID vaccines is further delayed since it is recommended to wait approximately two months from an infection. We will get those as soon as we hit that mark.

Day after day, new scientific information emerges about the long-term risk of COVID infections. Contrary to popular belief, immunity via infection is neither durable nor safe. Even mild or asymptomatic infections can produce serious long-term consequences, and each subsequent infection is not necessarily milder. Counterintuitively, instead of reinforcing immunity, getting multiple infections increases the chances of getting yet additional infections. The lesson to be drawn from this evidence is not complicated: it is best to try to stay healthy.

Fortunately, there are many ways of reducing one’s chances of getting COVID and other airborne infections. A layered approach that utilizes all of them may hold the most promise, but any one of the mitigations reduces risk at least partly. Everyone should weigh the benefits of each strategy against their own objections. The list is short and sweet: vaccinations, ventilation, and masking.

While current vaccines are not very durable and the virus continues to mutate, they do convey excellent protection against severe illness and death. New and more effective nasal vaccines are coming, which is exciting. Meanwhile, ventilation strategies include avoiding crowded indoor spaces, using air filters or cleaners, selecting outdoor venues whenever possible, and simply opening more windows and doors in acceptable weather. Masking is nobody’s favorite, but a well-fitted, high-quality mask can be very effective against airborne pathogens. I still mask in most indoor spaces, including the gym. I never fail to mask in public restrooms and elevators, even if I am the only person in them. They are poorly ventilated places containing the breath of many previous occupants. Before getting COVID from my less-disciplined husband, I went four full years without even getting a cold—I liked that! I think it was a first for me and I attribute it to masking.

It would have been great if the updated vaccines had been rolled out before the start of the school year. Unfortunately, they are just now starting to flow. I am beyond disappointed in the low level of protection that we have been providing for our youth. Most schoolchildren are getting multiple infections, many of which could have been avoided simply by improving ventilation. In addition to reducing pathogens, good ventilation reduces pollutants, which are particularly harmful to children. I try to remain optimistic and hope that this will continue to improve gradually.

Meanwhile, David and I are gradually getting closer to getting our updated COVID vaccines. In the past, we have received a mix of Moderna and Pfizer shots. This time we will be looking for Novavax. This is a traditional protein vaccine, as opposed to a messenger RNA vaccine. It targets features of the virus that appear to be more stable than the spike protein, perhaps providing broader protection against variants. Also, it may be a little more durable and with fewer side effects. To be clear, head-to-head effectiveness comparison of all COVID vaccines is not complete, and any updated vaccine is better than none. In our area, Novavax is still more difficult to find, but since our recent infections have bought us some time, our search for it will continue.